Whether you’re searching for designer chic, high street bargains or one-offs from little boutiques, you have come to the right place. Calle Colón (Columbus) should be your first stop. Begin at Plaza Toros (bullring). You will find at least five Zaras, two Mangos, two Cortefiels, a Blanco, three El Corte Inglés’, Oysho, Women’Secret, Bershka, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti, Promod and many more. Essential casual menswear stores too, include not only Springfield and Pull & Bear, but ultra elegant Spanish designers: Purificación García, Adolfo Dominguez and Armand Basi, all absolute musts, and for Ladies attire too! Calle Jorge Juan is great for accessories, bags and footwear, it has an Emporio Armani and also home furnishings stores Bañon, Zara Home and Habitat in La Galería Jorge Juan. Mercado de Colón, across from Habitat, is a recently restored modernista mastepiece. This beautiful building, once a fruit and vegetable market, is a lovely place to take a break and have a Cappuccino del Tiempo (Iced Cappuccino) or a light lunch. Then wander along C/Ciriló Amoros and take in more designer stores on your way back to Colón, then head out through the back door of El Corte Inglés into Plaza de Alfonso el Magnánimo, a lovely leafy square huge prehistoric looking ficus trees.(Just to the left is the official Valencia Club de Fútbol Shop for all sports fans who may want to take home a V.C.F. shirt!) Walk through the Plaza to Calle de la Paz., stores along this very pretty street, include Quiksilver, Hugo Boss and Macarthy, and also some great gift and home stores - AleHop is especially fun. At the Carolina Herrera store, Designer Store Heaven begins: Turn left Calle Poeta Querol for Hermès, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Samsonite, Montblanc, Lladró, Nespresso, Bulgari and Roberto Cavalli, with Alex Vidal not far away. At the end of Poeta Querol, turn right into Calle de las Barcas, you come back into Plaza del Ayuntamiento, which, apart from being an essential sightseeing point, has some really great boutiques , including, Lucio (menswear), Cool*, Para La Cubana, and Kawaleon, all stocking the likes of Armand Basi, Donna Karan, Bill Tornade, Armani Jeans, Calvin Klein, Evisu, Chevignon, Jean Coloma, Dirk Bikenberg, Miss Sixty, Energie and Fornarina: Great little stores with individual pieces for the über trendy. Just up the road, around Mercado Central (Central Market), a selection of kooky skate and alternative shops, selling surf and skatewear and jewelry/bags/ bongs/piercings, - look for Malasaña, La Pulga and Ghetto. Carry on up to Bolsería and you are in Barrio del Carmen. Plaza del Tossal and Calle Quart are full of great fashion forward shops, Munich, Kling and Mystic among them, explore this area, the real little gems are well hidden, but you’ll be glad you rooted them out. If you are still in the area after all that shopping, stay around for a meal, the Barrio del Carmen is full of excellent eateries too! All written content©2009 Timothy-V. Birch & all Photos ©2009 Diana Birch Look out for Tim's book: Frommer's Valencia Day by Day, with photos by Diana Available in June 2009 from amazon.com and all good bookshops.
First let's talk about the meal timetable here as they are hard to get used to, especially if you are visiting for a short while, as Valencians eat five times a day: Desayuno, Breakfast, early in the morning. Almuerzo, A mid-morning snack usually a filled baguette, wine/beer, coffee and often a brandy (often mixed as a carajillo). Comida, Lunch at around 2.30pm, 3courses, bread, wine/beer, then coffee/carajillo. Merienda, Teatime at around 18:00, often a doughnut and milk or more coffee. Cena, Dinner, eaten at around 21:30 and consisting of much the same as lunch. A healthy mediterranean diet. And the food? Valencia invented the Paella. Made with the rice that the Moors planted a ten minute drive to the south of the city in an area called L'Albufera - said to be the largest paddies in Europe. You can take a boat trip around the Albufera and eat rice prepared over 100 different ways in the village of El Palmar. A real Valencian Paella is made with chicken & rabbit and can be delicious. It often features as the first course of a typical Menu Del Día. La Muñeca on Paseo Neptuno at Malvarrosa Beach serves great Paella. Horchata and Fartons. Horchata is a delicious thirst-quenching drink, sugary and sweet, made from the Tiger nut (Chufi in Spanish). Served ice cold in the summer with warm Fartons -long thin iced buns - to dunk. Try them at Horchateria Catalina, Plaza de la Reina. Great menus del día can be had at many restaurants (an affordable meal at midday at most restaurants - 3 courses with a drink for anything from 8€) but we particularly like El Kiosko's 10€ lunch in Plaza Dr Collado, behind La Lonja. For another real Valencian bar dining experience, try Bar Pilar (C/Moro Zeit 13) their speciality is Mussels. It looks a little rough and ready and you’ll most certainly have to queue (get a number from the waiter) but you'll be in good company, Valencia's smart set love this place Moving up the price ladder, the excellent La Salvaora (C/Calatrava 19, +34 96 315 3058) describes itself as a Taberna Español, it offers an excellent Menú Degustación for around 40€. Another favourite of ours is C'an Bermell(C/Santo Tomás 18, +34 96 391 0228) in the heart of the Barrio del Carmen, it specialises in top-quality fresh local produce (ask for daily recommendations). Closed Sunday. For smart dining, Ca' Sento(C/Méndez Núñez 17, +34 96 330 1775). A family-run restaurant in the working-class suburb of El Grau, down by the port, Ca'Sento has a Michelin star thanks his insistance on first-class raw materials and a fierce loyalty to local cuisine. Put yourself in the chef’s hands for a sumptuous meal of Valencian specialties. Closed all day Sunday & Monday evening. Last but not least, Chust Godoy (C/ Boix, 6, 96 391 3815), is a beautiful restaurant with a superb wine list. Wonderful fish and Valencian Cuisine with a twist. This is just a taste of what the city has to offer - for much more information on restaurants, bars, clubs and what's on in Valencia visit thisisvalencia.com. Literally packed with information on all the wonders of the city- from culture to sport to leisure to events - get the most out of the city - with the help of thisisvalencia.com and if you need a personal or group tour contact us here
Welcome to Valencia
You are in for a real treat! It is a beautiful city, a marvelous mixture of ancient and modern architecture, gorgeous parks, monuments and open spaces and long sandy beaches. Then there is the shopping, the dining and the city's legendary nightlife. One of the joys of the city is its size, despite being Spain's third largest city, it is quite possible to see the best it has to offer on foot in just one day.
So let’s get started!
A WALKING TOUR Let’s start with a short walking tour of the Historic Centre of the City where the architecture is an eclectic mix of styles from 15th century gothic and much earlier, through baroque and modernista (Art Nouveau) right up to the present day. Valencia was until recently a bit of a secret - and it showed, but when the city decided to begin work on the Calatrava Masterpiece, the City of Arts and Sciences, it began to be recognised around the world and so began a rebirth. Old crumbling treasures were lovingly restored and the city is really beginning to sparkle. We'll start our tour at the Plaza de Toros, Valencia's coliseum-like bullring, a 48 sided structure around a 52 meter diameter bullring. Designed by Sebastián Monleón, there have been bullfights here for over 150 years. When not being used for fights, which take place around three or four times a year during Fiestas the Plaza De Toros is used for concerts and exhibitions. Whether this sport is to your taste or not, a visit to the museum is interesting and gives you your only view into the ring when there are no fights. Just next door is the delightful Estación Norte, an excellent example of Modernista Architecture. The outside walls are decorated with beautiful mosaics and ceramic oranges, inside the are more mosaics depicting Bon Voyage messages in many languages, It won't be very long before this building will become a museum as the station and the train lines move underground and the land behind becomes Central Park. We now cross the wide road and walk down to the Plaza Ayuntamiento, the town hall square on the left is the Baroque Town Hall and directly opposite is a building whose wild mix of architectural styles for some reason looks amazing The recently fully restored Palacio de Correos (Post Office) is a hotchpotch of classicism, modernism and baroque, with a metal tower crowning the whole affair. Inside there is a circular main hall crowned by a stunning stained glass roof. Walk on now to what is claimed to be the largest indoor fresh goods market in Europe, An ornate modernista masterpiece that has just undergone major refurbishment it is a wonderful place to visit any weekday morning. Look for the parrot weathervane on the domed roof, it is said to represent the chatter of business as ‘Cotorra’ means not only Parrot in Valenciano, the local language, but Chatterbox too. Opposite is the glorious 15th century Silk Exchange, La Lonja, which is a UNESCO Mankind World Heritage Site. The interiors are breathtaking, the
NIGHTLIFE main hall has high vaulted ceilings supported by barley twist columns. There is a cool orangerie courtyard off, and some of the rudest Gargoyles you have ever seen, above you! As we walk up to the Cathedral Square, Plaza de la Reina we pass Plaza Redondo, which is currently being restored to its former glory. It’s a circular square with a fountain at its centre, little stalls and shops around selling mainly haberdashery and locally produced ceramics. The Plaza de la Reina (Queen's Square) is dominated by Valencia Cathedral said to be the home of the Holy Grail. Orginally started in 1262 on the site of the old central Mosque, it has been modified and added to many times over the centuries and is now a combination of Romanesque, Renaissance, Gothic, Barogue and Neoclassical - like the Post office, it works spectacularly. You can climb the 200 or so stairs of the Bell tower, known as El Miguelette (or El Micalet in Valenciano) for great views over the city and of a smaller tower, Santa Catalina, who is fondly known by locals as El Micalet's wife. Behind the Cathedral is said to be the most important square in the city. Plaza de la Virgen is built over the Forum of the Roman city of Valentia. This is certainly the busiest (pedestrian) Plaza in the city, flanked on one side by the Palace of the Valencian Autonomous Government and on the other by the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamarados (Our Lady of the Helpless) the city's patron saint. Nicknamed 'the hunchback' (la Cheperudeta) because of the pose of the gothic wooden sculpture of her inside the Basilica, which was completed in 1667. The fountain in this square represents the City’s Río Túria and its tributaries, in human form. Walk past the Palace and turn right into Calle Serranos until you reach the Imposing 14th century gothic towers, once the main entry into the walled city for travellers from Aragón and Serranía, though massively fortified, they were never actually used in battle. Their last use was as a store for works of art during the Spanish Civil War. Climb to the top for a view over the Río Túria, the river that is now a park and behind, the maze of streets and alleys known as Barrio del Carmen.
Valencia is famous for its nightlife. It started in the 70's with the Bacalao when Madrilaneans would travel down from the capital on a Friday night and party non-stop until it was time to return home for work Monday morning! The expertise gained from those years is obvious when you see the abundance of clubs and bars in the city. Valencia Comunidad is said to boast more bars than the rest of Europe put together, not hard to believe if you take a walk through Calle Caballeros/Barrio del Carmen: Blink and you have missed two! If you are planning a night on the town in Valencia expect to be late: Dinner is eaten late - book a table before 9pm (later at weekends) and you will be leaving as it fills up. Once dinner is over go for a stroll, have pre-nightclub drinks and expect to reach your chosen club at around 1-2 am though at 3am you'll find the place hopping! The best areas for bar hopping are Barrio del Carmen (especially the aforementioned Calle Caballeros) and Zona Canovas, coincidentally, both areas are also great for Dining too! The city is awash with great clubs, the smartest are: Las Animas (C/ Pizarro 31 +34 963 942 948), Wandu Palace (C/San Vicente 160/2 +34 608 770 711), Ishaya (G.V. Marqués del Turia 23. 902 10 85 27) MYA (City of Arts and Sciences +34 96 331 9745) & Las Animas Puerto (Edificio DOCKS. Paseo de Neptuno. Playa de las Arenas s/n - Tel. 902 10 85 27) Hey, see you on the dancefloor?
A FEW SPANISH WORDS & PHRASES
hola adios ¡hasta luego! por favor gracias perdona ¿tienes hora? ¿donde está el catedral? yo quiero una cerveza ¡salud! derecha izquierda todo recto en la esquina servicios/baños/aseos iglesia torre plaza mercado ayuntamiento calle/carrer (valenciano) puente Caballo
· hello · goodbye · see you later! · please · thank you · excuse me / sorry · do you have the time? · where is the cathedral? · i want a beer · cheers! · right · left · straight on · on the corner · toilets/bathrooms · church · tower · square · market · town hall · street · bridge · horse